Savanna Funkhouser

published Intruder Bill Gets Through Roadblock in Blog 2012-03-14 11:17:06 -0400

Intruder Bill Gets Through Roadblock

A last-minute roadblock sparked some fancy footwork to keep alive Staunton Del. Richard P. "Dickie" Bell's legislation that says it is OK for people to use deadly force against intruders into their homes.

The hurdle: A gun rights group reiterated concern the bill would constrain peoples' right to defend themselves.

The venue: A state Senate committee that passed a similar, but not identical bill, two weeks ago. That bill went on to clear the full Senate with a vote of 23-17.

Read More: Intruder Bill Gets Through Roadblock - The News Leader


Crossover Day Brings Successes, Misses for Area's Legislators

Sometimes, bills die loudly in Virginia's legislature. Sometimes, they just slip away.

That's what happens to bills when a delegate can't get them to the floor of the House, or a state senator to the floor of that chamber by the middle of the session: Crossover Day, which was Tuesday.

So, long-languishing and now dead bills include the proposal by Del. Richard P. "Dickie" Bell, R-Staunton, for zero-based budgeting, an approach he had advocated back in his days on Staunton City Council, which forces officials to start with a clean slate every year, rather than to make their spending plans pegged off the current year's figuring.

 

Read More: Crossover Day Brings Successes, Misses for Area's Legislators - The News Leader


published Bell Sounds from the 20th - March 9 in Newsletter 2012-03-09 15:39:14 -0500

Bell Sounds from the 20th - March 9

Progress on State Budget as Session Draws to a Close

During this final week of the 2012 General Assembly Session the main focus has continued to be on the ongoing budget impasse. We did see some progress when House Budget Conferees met with members of both parties from the Senate Finance Committee to begin to work out the budget differences between the two chambers.  Senate Democrats participation in this process is certainly a positive sign.

We are all hopeful that the meetings over the past few days will help pave the way for the Senate to use the House budget (the only budget bill alive) as a starting point for a final budget. When comparing the House budget with the Senate proposal that failed in the Senate, it is clear that the differences are not as large as they have been in prior years.  This is a promising sign that, if other non-budgetary considerations among the Senate Democrats are set aside, we will be able to reach a budget agreement in a timely manner.  Unfortunately it will likely not be until after the 2012 Regular Session has adjourned.  Some challenges still remain, however, as Senate Democrats earlier in the week released a list of proposed programs they want to fund.  Their proposals add approximately $450 million in new spending, and do not provide new revenue in suggested cuts to other areas to balance the budget.

Capitol Visitors Come to Urge Passage of the Budget

This week many groups came to the Capitol or wrote letters urging the passage of a budget. Some of these groups include veterans groups, law enforcement departments, local government officials, and local chambers of commerce.  As mentioned last week, our schools, local governments, and police departments muse see the Commonwealth’s budget before they can produce a budget of their own.  When we delay it also delays them. I believe that these important visits have also made every Delegate and Senator acutely aware of the consequences of this budget delay for those we represent at home.

Supporting Our Capitol Police

I would like to publicly thank the men and women of the Virginia Division of Capitol Police who work to keep all visitors, staff, and elected officials safe every day.   Over the course of the 2012 Session, we have seen numerous groups visit the Capitol to voice their support and concerns about a wide range of bills. As a whole, these groups have abided by the rules of the Capitol and have had positive and productive visits.  Unfortunately, a small minority of these visitors have come here with other intentions, and the Capitol Police have handled these situations with distinction and honor.  Though we have seen some harsh rhetoric this year, I have never felt unsafe or insecure in the Capitol thanks to these fine men and women. We are all very grateful for their sense of duty and professionalism.

In Closing

As this Session draws to a close, I would like to thank everyone who has called, emailed, written, or visited me in Richmond.  Your guidance and support helps me to effectively serve as your voice in the House of Delegates.

Additionally, we have mailed thousands of letters to constituents around the district to report on the progress of numerous bills during this Session, including legislation I have introduced. While we have done our best to answer every letter and email during the session, we have not been able to respond to everyone and will be working on replies until everyone has received a response.

I will also be visiting and speaking with the many organizations in the district that have invited me to give them a post session report.

Finally, I would like to thank my staff for all of their hard work throughout the Session. They do a lot of heavy lifting around the office and help me to serve you to the best of my ability.

Contact

This weekend we will be returning home to the 20th District.  Because the 2011 redistricting expanded the size of our district, we feel that it is no longer practical to expect people to come to Staunton to meet with me or my staff.  Sometimes it will simply be easier for us to come to you.  Therefore we have made the decision to close the office in Staunton, and operate on a more mobile basis. 

Rather than office hours, we will operate by appointment.  My aide, Savanna, will still be working 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday – Friday.  Our new phone number is 540-448-3999.  Our email address will stay the same, and you can continue to reach me at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.  You can also write to us at Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.

Thanks again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.  I look forward to seeing you when I return to the 20th District. 


published Bell Sounds from the 20th - March 2 in Newsletter 2012-03-02 16:15:51 -0500

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.


Bell Sounds from the 20th - February 24

House Passes a Fiscally Responsible Budget without Any Tax Increases

On Thursday, we passed the House version of the 2012-2014 biennial budget with a bipartisan vote of 79-21.  Our structurally balanced budget makes strategic investments in the core areas of government that House Republicans have emphasized throughout the 2012 Session.  This includes job creation in the private sector, increased education opportunities, protection of Virginia’s families, and increased efficiency in state government.  Perhaps most importantly, we have made these targeted investments without increasing the tax burden on hardworking Virginia families or businesses.

 


VA House Approves Teacher Contract Revisions

RICHMOND – After undergoing a dramatic edit last week in committee, Staunton Delegate Richard “Dickie” Bell’s bill to fundamentally change how teachers are hired and evaluated passed the House this morning on a 55-43 vote.

House Bill 576 would replace continuing contracts with annual contracts for teachers and principals. Teachers not eligible for continuing contracts by the 2013-2014 school year would receive three-year contracts that would not automatically renew.

Read More - VA House Approves Teacher Contract Revisions - The News Leader


Lawmakers Seek Programs to Boost Mental Health Care For Youngsters

STAUNTON — Local legislators have thrown their support behind proposed state budget amendments that would fund crisis stabilization projects to help ease the strain on Virginia's only public mental hospital for children, Staunton's Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents.

A continuing rise in readmissions to the hospital, mainly because of a lack of help back in the community when children are discharged, has alarmed children's advocates as well as the Valley delegation.

Read More - Lawmakers Seek Programs to Boost Mental Health Care for Youngsters - The News Leader


Poll Finds Strong Support for Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

More than 75 percent of Virginians think welfare recipients should be required to pass a drug test to receive benefits, according to a new poll released this morning.

Overall, voters support testing for public assistance by 76–21 percent with strong support across race, gender, party, income, religious and age groups.

A measure to require the testing was carried over to 2013 by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday to give lawmakers more time to study the potential costs. A fiscal impact analysis attached to the bill introduced in the House of Delegates estimated the cost of drug screening some recipients at $1.3 million in the first year and $1 million annually after that.

Read More: Poll Finds Strong Support for Drug Testing Welfare Recipients - The News Virginian


published Dickie Bell's intruders bill clears house in Blog 2012-02-20 17:37:20 -0500

Dickie Bell's intruders bill clears house

Tales of ex-spouses' confrontations and out-of-hand fraternity parties couldn't sway the House of Delegates from approving Staunton Del. Richard P. "Dickie" Bell's bill that would allow people to use deadly force if threatened by an intruder in their homes.

Bell's bill passed with a vote of 70-28 Thursday, moments after Del. Anne B. Crockett-Stark, R-Wytheville, set most of the chamber laughing with a story about an elderly woman — a sharpshooter, in Crockett-Stark's description — who scared off a burglar with a warning shot.

Read More: Dickie Bell's Intruders Bill Clears House - The News Leader


Supervisors Face Awkward Deadline for Dam Funds

VERONA — Members of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors will face the rare case of having $1 million in badly needed grant money offered to them that could be hard to accept.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has made the money available to reinforce the Mills Creek dam in the Sherando area. But as often happens with government regulations, conditions the conditions that come with the money make acceptance tricky.

The total cost to rehabilitate the dam is about $1.6 million. The USDA's National Resources Conservation Service can only cover 65 percent of the total, which the $1 million is intended to cover, according to county records gathered for the board's regular meeting Wednesday.

 

Read More: Supervisors Face Awkward Deadline for Dam Funds - The News Leader


Castle Doctrine Advances in Senate Committee

 

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today House Bill 48 has been reported out of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.

     House Bill 48 encodes a version of the "castle doctrine," allowing the use of physical force, including deadly force, by a person in his dwelling against an intruder in the dwelling who has committed an overt act against him or another person who is lawfully in the dwelling.

     It was amended today in committee to conform to Senator Richard Stuart’s (R-Montross) bill, Senate Bill 4, which passed out of the Senate February 2, 2012.  It was also amended to state that the legislation is not intended to replace the Common Law, which is currently in practice.


Castle Doctrine Reported Out of Senate Committee

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today House Bill 48 has been reported out of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.

     House Bill 48 encodes a version of the "castle doctrine," allowing the use of physical force, including deadly force, by a person in his dwelling against an intruder in the dwelling who has committed an overt act against him or another person who is lawfully in the dwelling.

     It was amended today in committee to conform to Senator Richard Stuart’s (R-Montross) bill, Senate Bill 4, which passed out of the Senate February 2, 2012.  It was also amended to state that the legislation is not intended to replace the Common Law, which is currently in practice.


published Crossover Legislation in Press Releases 2012-02-20 16:15:20 -0500

Crossover Legislation

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today that he has patroned 11 bills and chief co-patroned 2 bills that have passed in the House of Delegates this Session.  Today marks the midpoint of Session, also known as Crossover Day, where the House and Senate must complete work on their respective bills so that they may go over to the other body for consideration.   

     “I am very pleased that so many pieces of my legislation have been so successful this year.  I believe we put together a strong package this year, and I am thrilled to see so many of these important measures advance.” said Delegate Bell. “I am hopeful that this legislation will continue to advance in the Senate.”

            The most recent legislation to pass are House Bills 72 and 218. 


published Crossover in Blog 2012-02-20 16:13:36 -0500

Crossover

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today that he has patroned 11 bills and chief co-patroned 2 bills that have passed in the House of Delegates this Session.  Today marks the midpoint of Session, also known as Crossover Day, where the House and Senate must complete work on their respective bills so that they may go over to the other body for consideration.   

     “I am very pleased that so many pieces of my legislation have been so successful this year.  I believe we put together a strong package this year, and I am thrilled to see so many of these important measures advance.” said Delegate Bell. “I am hopeful that this legislation will continue to advance in the Senate.”

            The most recent legislation to pass are House Bills 72 and 218. 


published House Bill 48 Passes in the House in Blog 2012-02-20 16:12:40 -0500

House Bill 48 Passes in the House

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today House Bill 48 has passed in the House of Delegates.

     House Bill 48 encodes a version of the "castle doctrine," allowing the use of physical force, including deadly force, by a person in his dwelling against an intruder in the dwelling who has committed an overt act against him or another person who is lawfully in the dwelling.


House Bill 48 Passes in the House of Delegates

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today House Bill 48 has passed in the House of Delegates.

     House Bill 48 encodes a version of the "castle doctrine," allowing the use of physical force, including deadly force, by a person in his dwelling against an intruder in the dwelling who has committed an overt act against him or another person who is lawfully in the dwelling.


Delegate Dickie Bell’s House Bill 1216 Passes in the House of Delegates, House Bill 576 Reported Out of Committee

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today House Bill 1216 has passed in the House of Delegates.  He also announced that House Bill 576 has been reported out of the Committee on Education.

     House Bill 1216 provides that when a proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance only involves a tract of land owned by the Commonwealth or Federal Government only affects a portion of the land, notice only needs to be given to the owners of properties that are adjacent to the affected area.

      “I am pleased to see House Bill 1216 pass in the House of Delegates.” said Delegate Bell.  “This bill was brought to me by Augusta County and makes a lot of sense.  It will save the localities money and extra hassle, and will also help reduce confusion to land owners.  I hope that this legislation will continue to see success in the State Senate. ”


House Bill 1215 Passes in the House of Delegates

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today House Bill 1215 has passed in the House of Delegates.

     House Bill 1215 requires the Board of Education to promulgate regulations establishing standards for accreditation of virtual schools that enroll students full time.

      “I am pleased to see House Bill 1215 pass in the House of Delegates.” said Delegate Bell.  “This bill is simply designed to ensure that the quality of the education that students receive in virtual schools is the equal to the quality of the education that they receive in the traditional classroom. I hope that it will see the same success in the Senate.”


Delegate Bell's HB 98 and 217 Pass in the House of Delegates

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today House Bills 98 and 217 have passed in the House of Delegates.

     House Bill 217 provides that the provisions of the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act do not apply to personal information systems maintained by the Department of Social Services related to child welfare, adult services or adult protective services, or public assistance programs when requests for personal information are made to the Department of Social Services.  It was reported from the Committee on General Laws with a vote of 22-0.  It passed today unanimously.


Bell Sounds from the 20th - February 17

We have just passed the halfway point of the 2012 General Assembly Session. The House has completed action on all House bills and begun to take action on the 403 bills that passed out of the State Senate. The State Senate has also begun taking action on the 603 bills that passed in the House of Delegates this year.  Any legislation that passes both bodies will then go to the Governor for final approval.


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