Bell Sounds from the 20th - 2018 Session - Week 4

It’s hard to believe, but we are already into February! Crossover is just a little bit over a week away. As a reminder, crossover is the deadline for all bills to be considered in their House of origin. After crossover the House will only consider bills passed by the Senate and the Senate will only consider bills passed by the House. This means our floor sessions are getting longer as legislation is still working its way through the process.

Reforming State Board of Elections

On Thursday, we passed legislation reforming the State Board of Elections to guarantee the nonpartisan administration of elections in the Commonwealth.

The State Board of Elections currently is made up of three members; two from the party of the Governor and one from the party who has the next highest number of votes. This means currently the board is 2 Democrats and 1 Republican.

The bill increases from three to six the number of members on the Board, requiring three to be from the party that won the most recent gubernatorial election and three from the party receiving the next highest number of votes. This essentially means the Board would most likely always be made up of 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats.

Why is this important? During this last election cycle the State Board of Elections delayed Delegate Bob Thomas’s election certification on a party line vote. It took a federal judge intervening to force the board to declare Thomas the rightful winner. If the board was evenly split those decisions would not be partisan.

All voters should be confident in the electoral process and be able to trust elections are conducted in the most fair and transparent way possible.  This is one more step in improving that process.

 Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Given recent news reports across the country regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, this year the Speaker of the House and House Republicans have made sexual harassment prevention a top priority.  Delegate Roxann Robinson introduced legislation that will require all General Assembly members, their legislative staff, and other legislative employees to take sexual harassment prevention training every two years.  The extensive course will be administered by the Clerk of the House and the Clerk of the Senate.  

Delegate Robinson’s bill ensures that the General Assembly takes proactive steps to educate General Assembly members and staff on appropriate standards of conduct and reporting procedures to ensure the safety of everyone while on Capitol Square.

My Legislation

This week the House unanimously passed my House Bill 2. This bill will allow a spouse of any member of the armed forces who has a valid out-of-state teaching license to enjoy licensure reciprocity in Virginia. This means that an individual who is currently a licensed teacher in another state and married to a member of the military could seamlessly transition into a Virginia classroom if their family is transferred to Virginia.

Addressing the significant teacher shortage in Virginia is a top priority of the Virginia House of Delegates this year. We have one of the largest military populations in the country and this legislation will remove obstacles for licensed and qualified teachers to get a job in Virginia as soon as possible.  This not only helps strengthens our commitment to our active duty military and veteran populations, but also will make it easier for our local school divisions to find and hire qualified teachers for our public schools.

House Bill 2 was referred to the House Committee on Education, where it reported out unanimously on January 24.  It passed in the full House with a vote of 99-0.  It will now be sent to the Senate for further consideration.

In addition to House Bill 2, I had two other bills pass in the House this week that related to pawnbrokers.  They were HB 206 and HB 26.

Visitors

This week we had many visitors drop by to visit.  Julia Billingsley stopped in for “Hokie Day” at the Capitol, and we were also visited by a group from the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative.  Jill McLaughlin visited representing “Decoding Dyslexia” and Dr. Bob Gunther visited the Capitol along with many other pediatricians from across the Commonwealth.  We were visited by Gayl Brunk and a group representing the Valley Association of Independent Living and General Teresa Djuric and cadets from the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership at Mary Baldwin University.  Janice Kitts visited with the Virginia Nurses Association Lobby Day, and we were visited by Marilyn Blagg from Highland County.  Last but not least we were visited by Joyce Dull, as well as a group from Nelson County representing SEIU.

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 Information

We are operating out of our Richmond Office for the duration of the 2018 Session. To reach us by phone call 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 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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