Statement from Delegate Bell regarding Governor McAuliffe's veto of House Bill 1400


RICHMOND, VA – Governor McAuliffe has vetoed House Bill 1400, Delegate Bell’s legislation to establish fulltime Virtual School Programs in Virginia. Delegate Dickie Bell issued the following statement:

“I am deeply disappointed that Governor McAuliffe has vetoed legislation to establish the Virginia Virtual School. With a single stroke of his pen, the Governor has once again denied educational choice to thousands of students and their families, including students that are already on the waitlist.

“The Governor’s actions today prove to be yet another inconsistency in his long history of inconsistencies on this issue.  Governor McAuliffe signed substantially similar legislation with re-enactment language in 2015, yet vetoed legislation identical to House Bill 1400 in 2016.  In January, he once again embraced the idea of virtual education by putting forth his own virtual education proposal.  The General Assembly, however, overwhelmingly rejected his legislation in favor of House Bill 1400.  

“Virginia is a leader in so many areas, but we continue to fall further and further behind with regard to virtual learning. Thirty states already have full-time virtual programs, and Virginia is still not one of them.  Governor McAuliffe is a strong advocate for the use of new technology with regard to economic development, yet has repeatedly put politics over policy and rejected new technology when it comes to virtual learning.  

“Virginia is very fortunate to have one of the best education systems in the United States.  We have many fantastic schools and wonderful teachers who allow our students to thrive in the traditional classroom.  Yet some students are still being left behind. Virtual Education provides one more option for those families that find that their children to not excel in a traditional brick and mortar school.  I trust our parents to make these choices for their families and I wish Governor McAuliffe would do the same.

“We have lost this battle, but the fight for virtual education is not over.  I am committed to expanding virtual education in the Commonwealth and I will continue our work throughout the interim and, if re-elected in November, into the 2018 General Assembly Session.  Every child in Virginia deserves a chance to succeed, regardless of their individual circumstances or their zip code. I will continue to stand as a leading voice for those children and families who need alternatives to the traditional classroom.”


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Delegate Bell Announces 11 House Bills Have Passed in the House and Will Be Heard by the State Senate

RICHMOND, VA – Following “Crossover” day at the General Assembly, Delegate Bell has 11 bills and 2 resolutions that have passed in the House of Delegates and will be considered by the State Senate. Tuesday, February 9, Crossover Day, is the official half-way point of the 2017 Session.  From this point forward, the House of Delegates will only consider bills that originated in the Senate, and the Senate will only consider bills that originated in the House. 

“I am pleased that the House of Delegates saw fit to advance 11 bills and 2 resolutions that I brought forward this year.  I believe that we put together a strong legislative package for the 2017 Session.” said Delegate Bell. “I am encouraged by the support these measures have gained in the House of Delegate and I hope they will continue to gain support in the Senate.”

As a former school teacher and Chairman of the Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee, education is a top priority for Delegate Bell. This year, he filed two bills to reform school discipline by reducing long-term suspensions. House Bill 1534 redefines “long-term suspension” of students by narrowing the time frame to 11-90 days (current code is 11-364 days). Additionally, it provides that if the suspension stretches into a new grading period, the student may ask for a review of their case to present new information for possible re-admission to the start of that next grading period. House Bill 1536 limits prevents suspension of Pre-K – 3rd graders for more than 5 days.  House Bill 1534 passed the House on a vote of 51-46 and House Bill 1536 passed on a vote of 47-45.

“Virginia public schools issued over 126,000 out of school suspensions to approximately 70,000 students in 2014-15 alone, including approximately 16,000 in Pre-K – 3rd grade.  We find that students who are excluded from school are more likely to experience academic problems, mental health issues, substance abuse, and eventual justice system involvement, which is likely to be more costly to the government in the long term” said Delegate Bell. “Additionally, when these students are removed from school the change in daily structure from school to home can make things much worse.  There is simply no evidence that suggests that suspensions or expulsions deter misconduct or improve school safety, especially in younger grades. I hope that by passing this legislation we will look at alternative ways to improve student behavior and performance while keeping them in school.”  

Another bill relating to Education, House Bill 1512, provides that each public institution of higher education is required to count credit for successful completion of American Sign Language courses at institutions of higher education toward satisfaction of foreign language entrance, placement, and course credit requirements.

In 2011, Delegate Bell sponsored legislation that required institutions of higher education to accept American Sign Language as a foreign language for their entrance requirements. House Bill 1512 expands this to allow it to fulfill the foreign language course credit requirements at their public college or university. This legislation passed the House of Delegates 98-0.

“I believe that passage of this legislation will encourage more students to take an interest in American Sign Language and will open up a host of educational opportunities for both hearing and deaf students” said Delegate Bell.

Delegate Bell has also prioritized the safety of our children during his time in the House of Delegates.  For that reason, he patroned House Bill 1485.  This bill amends the current code relating to offenders who have been convicted of crimes that prohibit them from being within a certain proximity to children.  Under current code, qualifying offenders are prevented from loitering or residing within 100 feet of any premises defined as a school, child day program, playground, athletic field or facility, or gymnasium. They are also prevented from working or engaging in any volunteer activity on the property of a school or daycare center.   This legislation would expand the list of qualifying offenses to include any offense under the law of any other jurisdiction that is similar to such qualifying offense.   This legislation passed in the House on a vote of 95-1.

The other bills patroned by Delegate Bell that passed by the House of Delegates this session include: HB 1400 (virtual education), HB 1440 (farm use vehicles), HB 1483 (OT – Licensure), HB 1484 (OT – qualified mental health professional), HB 1604 (foster care, reasonable efforts to prevent removal of child), HB 1795 (Adoptive and foster placements; Mutual Family Assessment home study), HB 2394 (pawn brokers), HJ 548 (National Suicide Prevention Week), HJ 780 (Self-Care month)

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Nelson Counties, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.  He is currently serving in his fourth term.

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Statement from Delegate Bell regarding Governor McAuliffe's Virtual Education Legislative Proposal


Staunton, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell issued the following statement regarding Governor McAuliffe’s virtual education legislative proposal.

“Today, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that he will be putting forth legislation that will “expand access to virtual education by requiring each school division to provide a free, full-time virtual learning option to students in grades K-12.” 

“I have met and discussed full-time virtual education with Governor McAuliffe on multiple occasions, and I am thrilled to see him embrace this as a viable option. His actions, however, prove to be yet another inconsistency in his history of inconsistencies on this issue.  Just last year he vetoed my legislation that established a full-time virtual program in Virginia, after signing a substantially similar bill with a re-enactment one year before.

"While I appreciate the Governor’s renewed interest in virtual learning, I believe that this legislation takes the wrong approach. By keeping virtual education in local school divisions we would create artificial barriers and limit rather than increase a parent’s choice.  One of the beauties of virtual education is it strips away boundaries. By limiting a child to a virtual program in their local school division, we allow for inequities that wouldn’t exist in a statewide virtual program.

"This year I have re-introduced last year’s legislation, which is now HB 1400.  I look forward to continuing this discussion in the 2017 General Assembly Session.”

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Delegate Bell Files Legislation to Expand Hate Crime Status to Police, Firefighters, and EMS

Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell announced today that he has

filed legislation for the 2017 Session that would expand Virginia hate crime laws to

include Police, Firefighters, and EMS personnel.


House Bill 1398, filed earlier this week, will expand the already existing definition of

hate crime for the purpose of reporting hate crimes within the Department of State

Police to include acts against persons employed as law-enforcement officers,

firefighters, or emergency medical services personnel. It already includes crimes

committed on the basis of race, religion, and ethnic origin.


“According to the FBI, forty one law enforcement officers were killed in the line of

duty in 2015” said Delegate Bell. “These are husbands and wives, mothers and

fathers, sisters and brothers, which were targeted because of their uniform. First

responders across the Commonwealth make sacrifices for us each day, and we must

find better ways to keep them safe.


“Adding police officers and other first responders makes logical sense. Officers

recently attacked in Dallas and other areas across the country were attacked not

because of who they are, but because of the uniform they wore” Bell continued. “I

hope that this will give them an extra layer of protection and will serve as a step in

the right direction toward ending violence against our emergency personnel. We are

seeing Democrats and Republicans across the nation put forth similar legislation,

and I hope that Virginia can serve as a leader in this area.”


In May, Louisiana became the first state in the nation to grant police officers

protected status. Other states, including Kentucky, Massachusetts, and New

Jersey, are considering similar legislation.


Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th

District, which includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Nelson counties,

and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. He is currently serving in his fourth


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Virtual Education Legislation Passes in State Senate

Virtual Education Legislation Passes in the State Senate RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Senate has passed legislation to establish a statewide virtual school to provide full-time virtual school programs here in Virginia.

This legislation, patroned by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton), passed the House on February 16 with a vote of 58-40-1 and has now passed the Senate on March 7 with a vote of 23-17.

This legislation will establish the Virginia Virtual School, which is for full-time virtual only. Students who attend this school will be subject to the same Standards of Quality, including SOLs and standards of accreditation, of any other brick and mortar school.

Special education services for students needing it can also be received through the school. Most importantly, this bill allows any student in Virginia to enroll in the School should their parents choose, and gives the parents the flexibility to choose any approved multi-division online provider.

The Senate Finance committee made a series of amendments to the bill. These amendments change the membership of the board of the Virginia Virtual School, delay the start of the school until the 2017-2018 school year, and direct the Department of Education to review the statewide use of online learning, including virtual courses and programs and develop a proposed methodology for estimating the cost of fully online programs. They will report these findings to the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees by November of 2017.

Delegate Bell requested today that the House reject the Senate amendments and request a committee of conference to hammer out the House and Senate differences.

“I am pleased that the State Senate has shown bipartisan support for full-time virtual learning here in the Commonwealth” said Delegate Bell. “This is a huge step forward for school choice and shows that the General Assembly trusts parents to make the best choices for their children. Every child is unique and we have a responsibility to teach them in an environment that best meets their unique needs. For some children this is virtual and I am pleased that we are on the right path. Over 30 states have already established statewide full-time virtual schools, and I believe Virginia should be next. While there are some differences in the versions of this legislation that passed in the House and Senate, I remain confident that we will be able to hammer out the differences, make compromises, and send the best bill possible to Governor McAuliffe’s desk.”

Delegate Bell carried similar legislation in the 2015 Session, which passed both Houses and was signed by the Governor with re-enactment language. Several improvements to the bill were adopted by the House Appropriations committee, putting the bill in a stronger posture.

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Nelson Counties, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. He is currently serving in his fourth term.

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State Senate Passes Right to Work Amendment

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia House of Delegates and State Senate have now both passed legislation to enshrine Virginia’s Right to Work law in the Constitution. The constitutional amendment, carried by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton), prohibits union membership as a condition of employment.

Virginia already has a right to work statute, but including right to work in the Constitution solidifies this important pro-business policy.

“Enshrining our right to work law in the Constitution strengthens Virginia’s commitment to being a welcoming and pro-business state,” said Delegate Bell. “This amendment will also further protect hard working Virginians from forced unionization. Like the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the right to work is a fundamental right. It’s time that we finally enshrine this law in our constitution to ensure that it is no longer subject to the whims of the legislature.”

Now that the resolution has passed in the General Assembly, the amendment will go to the voters for final approval during the 2016 election.

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Nelson Counties, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. He is currently serving in his fourth term.

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Small Business Endorses Delegate Bell in 20th District Race

 RICHMOND, September 23, 2015—The National Federation of Independent Business, Virginia’s leading small-business association, has endorsed Delegate Dickie Bell in the 20th House District race.

The endorsement comes from the NFIB/Virginia SAFE (Save America’s Free Enterprise) Trust, which is comprised exclusively of NFIB members.

“Delegate Bell is clearly the best choice for small business owners, their employees and their families,” said Nicole Riley, state director of NFIB/Virginia.

“Dickie understands the challenges facing the commonwealth’s small businesses, and our members believe he will continue to take a fiscally responsible approach to managing state government and support legislation that helps our small businesses grow and create jobs.”

"It is an honor to once again be endorsed by NFIB,” said Delegate Bell. “Small business is crucial to the economy of the Commonwealth, and Virginia cannot succeed without the success of small, independent, businesses.  Throughout my tenure in the House of Delegates I have supported policies that will help our small businesses thrive, and this will continue to be a top priority if I am re-elected in November.”

The NFIB/Virginia SAFE Trust’s endorsement is critical to the Delegate Bell’s campaign. Small business owners and their employees vote in high numbers and are known for actively recruiting friends, family members and acquaintances to go to the polls. NFIB has pledged it will activate its grassroots network on behalf of the campaign. NFIB’s political support is based on the candidates’ positions and records on small business issues. 




NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small- and independent-business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends its views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. More information about NFIB is available online at


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Delegate Bell Endorsed by NRA

STAUNTON, VA – The National Rifle Association has announced their endorsement of Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton) for the 20th District House of Delegates seat in the Virginia General Assembly.

The National Rifle Association posted this endorsement as well as an “A-” rating on the webpage of the NRA Political Victory Fund.  The rating is based upon Delegate Bell’s record of defending and upholding the Second Amendment rights of Virginia’s citizens.

“I am pleased and honored to once again receive the endorsement of the National Rifle Association.”  said Delegate Bell. “The right to bear arms is very important to many residents of the 20th District, and to me as well. Unfortunately, these freedoms have been under attack in recent years. I have made protecting the constitutional right to bear arms a high priority throughout my tenure in the House of Delegates, and will continue to do so if I am re-elected in November.”

The complete list of ratings and endorsements can be viewed online at  

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, Highland County, and parts of Nelson and Augusta counties.  Delegate Bell is currently serving in his third term.

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20th District Localities Awarded School Safety Grants

STAUNTON, VA – Several localities in the 20th District of the Virginia House of Delegates have been awarded a school safety grants this week by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. The grant is from the School Security Infrastructure Improvement Fund which was created by the General Assembly during the 2013 session.


Augusta County was awarded $60,116 for improvements to Craigsville Elementary, Fort Defiance High, North River Elementary and S. Gordon Stewart Middle.  Highland County was awarded $846 for improvements to Highland High School.  Nelson County was awarded $100,000 for Nelson County High School.  Staunton was awarded $53,302 for Bessie Weller Elementary, Robert E. Lee High and Shelburne Middle, and Waynesboro was awarded $63,554 for Berkeley Glenn Elementary and Wenonah Elementary.


“During the 2013 General Assembly Session recent tragedies, perhaps most notably the tragic events that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut in December of 2012, caused the General Assembly to examine school safety in the Commonwealth” said Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton).  “One area that we found needed some significant improvement throughout the Virginia was the security infrastructure within many of our schools.  Therefore, we passed legislation that established the School Security Infrastructure Improvement Fund.  This is an important step that will give localities additional resources that they need to ensure that every child, teacher, and staff member will remain safe at school.”


House Bill 2343 was originally proposed and written by House Republicans during the 2013 General Assembly session. The General Assembly authorized $31 million, including $6 million specifically for this program, for school safety and security in the 2013 state budget. That also included $1.7 million to hire additional school resource officers across the Commonwealth. The General Assembly authorized an additional $6 million for school security infrastructure improvements in the 2014 budget. 


“Our children deserve a safe classroom environment where they can focus on learning without fear of violence. I am proud of the steps that the General Assembly took in 2013 to help ensure this safety, and I am pleased to see the impact of these efforts right here in our community.”

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Delegate Bell Announces Endorsement from Farm Bureau's AgPAC

Delegate Dickie Bell(R-20) last week received the endorsement of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC, the organization’s political action committee, in the race for the 20th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Bell is among 115 candidates that VFBF AgPAC has endorsed for election to the General Assembly. Endorsements were made based on the recommendations of local committees of farmers.

Candidates who receive VFBF AgPAC endorsements “have demonstrated a clear understanding of the needs and challenges farmers are facing and/or have proven their support through their favorable voting records while holding positions in the General Assembly,” said Wayne F. Pryor, chairman of VFBF AgPAC and president of Virginia Farm Bureau. “We believe the endorsed candidates will help agriculture and forestry maintain its vitality as the No. 1 industry in Virginia.”

The non-partisan VFBF AgPAC was created by Farm Bureau in 1999 and employs in-kind contributions and endorsements to support candidates who can best support agriculture and Farm Bureau issues. A full list of candidates endorsed by the committee can be viewed online at

With nearly 150,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group.

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes Highland County, parts of Augusta and Nelson Counties, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.  He is currently serving in his 3rd term.

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