2019 Session - Bell Sounds from the 20th - Week 3

The 2019 Session is in full swing.  We are already just over a week away from Crossover. For those who are not familiar with Crossover, this is the day where all bills must be acted on in their House of origin.  After Crossover, the House will only consider Senate bills and the Senate will only consider House bills, apart from the budget bill.

A lot of legislation has worked its way through the process and we have already passed several major pieces of legislation.  There are still many bills working their way through the committee process, meaning committee meetings and floor

School Safety Legislation Passes in the House of Delegates

As I have mentioned in previous newsletters you may recall that last year the Speaker of the House formed this committee during the 2018 Session following the tragedy in Parkland, Florida.  The Select Committee met during the interim with the focus of strengthening emergency preparedness, hardening school security infrastructure, implementing security best practices, deploying additional security personnel, providing additional behavioral health resources for students, and developing prevention protocols at primary and secondary institutions across the Commonwealth.  They then made a series of recommendations to the General Assembly for the 2019 General Assembly Session. On Tuesday, the House of Delegates passed several bills that were direct results of the 24 priority recommendations from this committee.

I’m proud of my colleagues for taking the issue of school safety seriously and looking outside the box to make our kids safer.  The bills passed were:

  • HB1729 requires each public school counselor to spend at least 80 percent of their staff time during normal school hours in the direct counseling of individual students or groups of students. School counselors are currently overburdened with administrative tasks, such as coordinating testing, that limits the amount of time they can provide counseling to students.  This bill ensures that counseling services will be available to any student who needs it.
  • HB1733 requires the school board in each school division where the local law-enforcement agency employs school resource officers to enter into a memorandum of understanding with such local law-enforcement agency that sets forth the powers and duties of the school resource officers.  School Resource Officers are responsible for upholding the law, not school board policy; therefore, it is imperative that localities clearly articulate and agree upon the Resource Officer’s role.
  • HB1738 requires a licensed architect who is trained and experienced in crime prevention through environmental design to approve plans and specifications for new or remodeled public school building construction. These architects look at corridors, open spaces, and floor plans through the lens of school safety.
  • HB1725 requires each school board, in consultation with the local building official and local fire marshal, to develop a procurement plan to ensure that all security enhancements to public school buildings are in compliance with the Uniform Statewide Building Code and Statewide Fire Prevention Code.
  • HB1732 requires each public elementary and secondary school to conduct at least one general safety/emergency training or drill for students per year. Schools already conduct fire, tornado, and earthquake drills, and need more general emergency preparedness training to ensure students, teachers, and staff are prepared for any type of emergency.

I’m pleased that these bills were advanced, and I hope that they will be viewed favorably by our colleagues in the Senate.  There are several other school safety priority recommendations still making their way through the committee process in the House and I look forward to continuing these discussions on the House floor. 

I support Margaret Ransone.

On Tuesday my colleague, Republican Delegate Margaret Ransone, gave a heartfelt speech on the House floor following what she felt was a very disheartening situation earlier that morning in the subcommittee she chairs. Delegate Ransone chairs the Privileges and Elections subcommittee that heard the Equal Rights Amendment legislation.  She personally is opposed to the amendment and during the meeting tried to take a moment to speak words of encouragement directly to the young girls who were in attendance. Instead of allowing their daughters to hear the perspective of a woman who’s opinion differed from their own, the mother’s in the room were angry and covered their daughters’ ears while she was speaking.  This is not the message that I believe we should be delivering to our children as we teach them to engage in political discourse.

Margaret spoke about her experiences on the House floor and used that opportunity to empower young women everywhere.  If you haven’t seen her speech yet, I encourage you to take a few moments to watch it by clicking here.  Margaret is a strong woman and an excellent delegate, and I am honored to serve with her.

Contact Us!

I love hearing from constituents on issues that matter most to you! We are operating out of our Richmond Office for the duration of the 2019 Session.  

The quickest way to reach us by phone is by calling the Richmond office directly at 804-698-1020.  We do not monitor the voicemail on our district office phone during the legislative session.  We will still receive email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.

If you’re in the Richmond area during Session and would like to stop by for a visit, please do so. Our committee schedule is very demanding, but I make every attempt to see constituents who come visit in Richmond.  We do not require appointments, but they are encouraged.

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate!

 

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