Bell Sounds from the 20th - March 2

Senate Democrats Failure to Launch

As this edition of our newsletter is being prepared we find ourselves at impasse regarding a state budget. Senate Democrats have not only failed to produce a budget of their own, but they have killed the House budget summarily and left us without a vehicle with which to go forward. Without such vehicle we face the real possibility of a state government shutdown July 1. Even worse than that, local governments and school divisions across the state, already deeply involved in putting together budgets of their own, find themselves hamstrung. Without knowing how much revenue they will receive from the state, localities and schools must resort to speculation and guesswork to finalize their budgets, and all government services including schools, fire, police and local government functions are placed in jeopardy. That is unconscionable.

Senate Democrats have failed to perform their sworn duty to the citizens of the Commonwealth with their failure to produce a budget; worse than that they have chosen to shift the debate and the focus to social issues in efforts to conceal the real reason for their “failure to launch.” The real reason they have not produced a budget of their own or considered the House budget is because they are still upset and angry that they were not granted their request for power sharing and/or additional seats and chairs on Senate committees. As a result the budget process is stalled. Responsible government has been replaced by partisan politics.

In an effort to produce a budget, which by the way is the Assembly’s number 1 job, the House has revived its budget bill and presented it to the House today. Now House Democrats, having been strongly chastised by their Senate counterparts for cooperating on budget efforts, have assumed their own obstructionist position and attempted to block the budget with amendments and rhetoric. Strangely enough this is the very same budget that many House Democrats voted for earlier in the week. Today they succumbed to partisan pressure from the Senate in an effort to further stall the budget process, but to no avail. House Republicans and a few courageous House Democrats once again passed a budget bill today on a 75-22 vote. Now it’s time for the Senate Democrats to “man up.”

My Legislation

Though we’re winding down I did have several pieces of legislation move forward in the Senate this week.

House Bill 1216 passed in the Senate just today with a vote of 39-0.  It provides that when a proposed amendment to the zoning involves only a portion of the larger tract, notice only needs to be given to the owners of those properties that are adjacent to the affected area of the larger tract.  This was brought to me by Augusta County, and I believe it will not only help save the localities money, but will also prevent confusion among landowners whose property is not affected by the changes.

House Bill 72 passed in the Senate with amendments this week, and the House adopted those amendments.  It was brought to me by a constituent, and requires highway work zones to be clearly marked with warning signs and attached flashing lights.  This is a safety measure not only for highway workers, but also for drivers who may not know whether or not a construction zone is active.  

House Bill 578 passed in the Senate this week, and requires the Board of Education to develop licensure criteria for teachers who teach only online courses.   It is a step in moving virtual education forward in the Commonwealth.

All three of these bills will now be sent to the Governor’s office for final approval.

House Bill 74

Another piece of legislation that advanced in the Senate this week is House Bill 74.  This is legislation that I patroned this year that I am especially pleased with.  It not only reduces the time limit for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect by mandated reporters from 72 hours to 24 hours, but also requires that the person who initially reports the suspected child abuse stay in the loop as the case is investigated.  That way they will know the end result of their report.

WSLS out of Roanoke ran a story on this legislation this week, which uses a real life case to explain why this legislation is necessary.  You can view that story online here (http://video.wsls.com/v/52446827/delegate-s-bill-could-help-plug-loophole-exposed-in-aveion-lewis-case.htm?q=dickie+bell).

Visitors

This week we were pleased to see Maggie Ragon and Jean Shrewsbury, local Commissioners of Revenue from Staunton and Augusta.  We were also happy to see Amanda Crawford from WHSV, who is doing a great job this year covering the events in Richmond. 

We have one week left! If you’re in Richmond this week feel free to stop by.

Contact

Our office is currently operating out of our Richmond Office for the 2012 Session.  You can contact us here by phone at 804-698-1020, or by email atDelDBell@house.virginia.gov.

If you’re in the Richmond area we’d love to see you.  We make constituent visits a priority and do our best to meet with as many as possible. In order to help us accommodate you we encourage you to call and make an appointment. 

We hope to hear from you while we are here.  If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to voice your opinion onkey pieces of legislation that may impact the District or the Commonwealth, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thanks again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate

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published this page in Newsletter 2012-03-02 16:15:51 -0500