Bell Sounds from the 20th - April 6, 2015

The 2015 General Assembly Session adjourned just over one month ago.  Sunday, March 29th was the deadline for any Governor’s action on legislation passed in the 2015 Session. He had the option to veto, sign, or amend any piece of legislation.

Perhaps his most notable approval of legislation is that of the budget bill passed in February.  As you may have already heard Governor McAuliffe signed the budget bill without proposing any amendments or vetoes. This is the first time since 1998 that a Governor has approved a budget without making any changes. This is a testament to the hard work that the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees, as well as the budget conferees, put in to crafting this bipartisan budget.  It is a budget that benefits all Virginians, and one I was proud to support.

My Legislation   

I am pleased to report that Governor McAuliffe signed each of the 4 bills that I patroned that passed both houses of the General Assembly.  This included House Bills 324, 1443, 1679, and 2114.  He also signed House Bill 2020, a bill that I chief co-patroned.

House Bill 324 establishes a new Virtual Virginia School and creates a Board of the Virginia Virtual School as a policy agency under the Secretary of Education (SOE). The School will offer both online classes and virtual school programs to students in Virginia. The bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2016, and will only become effective if reenacted by the 2016 Session of the General Assembly.  The Governor’s approval of House Bill 324 is a huge win for virtual education in Virginia. There is no doubt that we still have some work to do on this legislation, but I’m grateful that with the Governor’s approval we will have more time to continue this process.  I look forward to continuing discussions with all stakeholders in the interim and bringing back the best legislation possible for the 2015 Session

House Bill 1443 came at the request of the Commission on Youth, and requires the Board of Education to adopt regulations on the use of seclusion and restraint in public elementary and secondary schools in the Commonwealth. We know from the testimony of countless parents who testified before the Commission on Youth and House and Senate committee hearings that voluntary guidelines are not working.  With the passage and approval of this legislation by the Governor, we will begin the process of setting up mandatory regulations that will ensure that seclusion and restraint are only used as a last resort, and to ensure that parents are always notified when their child must be forcibly restrained.

House Bill 1679 requires each local school board to annually post on their website information describing the educational services available through the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind, the Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, and the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired to students who are identified as hearing impaired or visually impaired.  This is a common sense measure that will ensure that parents have easy access to information about services that may benefit their child.

House Bill 2114 provides schools in the Commonwealth with exemptions from federal regulations that effectively prohibit students from holding fundraisers that sell snacks and food not compliant with the federal school lunch program. School divisions can allow up to 30 school-sponsored fundraisers per school per year during which food that does not meet the federal nutritional guidelines can be sold to students.  With the passage and approval of this legislation, sports teams, clubs, and other school sponsored organizations will be able to hold bake sales and candy sales to raise needed funds for uniforms, trips, and other organization needs.

House Bill 2020 will allow retired teachers in critical shortage areas to teach and continue to receive their retirement allowance.  Currently retired teachers are already able to do this, but the sunset on that program ends in 2015. 

I’m thankful that the Governor has added his signature to each of these bills. 

Unless otherwise indicated, each of these measures will go into effect July 1, 2015.

 Sunshine, Warm Weather... Potholes???

Spring is finally here, bringing with it warm weather, outdoor activities, and the potential for rough roads. As you may know, spring is also the start of "pothole season."  Because we have had a very wet winter with heavy snow and rain, you may notice a lot of potholes in the roads this spring.

If you see a pothole you may report the problem to VDOT online here, or by calling 1-800-FOR-ROAD (1-800-367-7623). VDOT will investigate each report and will schedule repairs as soon as possible. As always, you can also contact my office and we would be glad to reach out to VDOT on your behalf.    

Plan Ahead for Safety this Prom Season

I recently received a memo from the Department of Motor Vehicles that might be helpful to you as you plan for proms, weddings, and other spring and summer events that might lead you to hire a limousine for your transportation.  Before you book a limousine or other for-hire passenger vehicle, check DMV's website at dmvNOW.com/knowyourride to make sure the carrier is properly licensed and insured.

For helpful tips from the DMV on hiring a limousine service, please click here 

Contact Us

I enjoy hearing from constituents on the issues that matter the most to you.  If you have a state issue that you’re concerned about, or need help in dealing with a state agency, please do not hesitate to contact me.

You can contact us by phone at 540-448-3999, or by email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov

If you would prefer to send us written correspondence, you can do so at Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.

Please also note that I am happy to speak to speak at special events and meetings for clubs, civic organizations, church groups, etc. as scheduling allows. Please feel free to contact Savanna at savanna@bellfordelegate.com to schedule.

As always, I thank you for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.

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