Bell Sounds from the 20th - January 12, 2018

On Wednesday at noon, the 2018 General Assembly Session was officially gaveled in. This year is a long (60 days) session.  We will primarily focus on the budget, but other top issues will include healthcare, the opioid crisis, education, and addressing the teacher shortage across Virginia.

It is no secret that the 2017 election cycle lasted longer than expected, but the House is now organized and ready for business. On Wednesday 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats were sworn in.  It was an honor and a privilege to stand with my colleagues and friends and take the oath for the 5th time.  I do not take the responsibility you have placed on me lightly, and I look forward to serving the residents of the 20th District for the next two years.  

After we were given the oath of office, the first item of business was to elect a new Speaker of the House.  Republican Delegate Kirk Cox was unanimously elected to be the 55th Speaker of the House. I know Kirk Cox to be a man of faith and integrity and I believe he is an excellent choice to lead the House at this critical time.  In stark contrast to the heated rhetoric from both sides over the last few months, Speaker Cox gave an opening speech that set a clear tone for the 2018 Session.  He pledged to focus on governing, work across the aisle to find common ground on issues that affect Virginians, and to lead with character and integrity.   

One of the next items of business was to pass the rules of the body.  The new rules expand the existing rule on proportional representation to both committees and subcommittees, and required the House to utilize electronic voting equipment to record votes in committee and subcommittee. The House will also live stream all full committee meetings. These changes, which build upon the work of the last several years to increase transparency and public access, were passed by the House unanimously.

Yesterday Speaker Cox announced committee assignments for the next term.  My committees remained the same; I will continue to serve on the Education, Health Welfare and Institutions, and General Laws committees.  There is, however, one significant change.  I was appointed by Speaker Cox to serve as the Vice Chairman of the House Education Committee. 

I’m pleased to have been appointed as Vice Chairman of the Education Committee. It will be privilege to work with Delegate Steve Landes to lead this committee and I am honored that we will be able to work together to represent the Shenandoah Valley in this way. I look forward to my new role and the challenges that come with it.  As a former educator and longtime education reform advocate, I’m grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of teachers and students across the Commonwealth.

Visitors

It was a short week this week but we were able to visit with some representatives of the Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District in our Richmond office.

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 2017 Session.  To reach us by phone please call the Richmond office directly at 804-698-1020.  We will not be monitoring our district phone.   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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